Monday, December 18, 2006

A Very Long Term Investment

I want to respond to Dov Menkes of Fullerton's letter to the Los Angeles Times on December 14.

Mr. Menkes complains that Bush's proposed missions to the Moon and Mars are "boondoggles". He thinks we can find a better way to spend $500 billion.

I have to say that I disagree. In my opinion and in the opinion of many of us who truly think of the future, the pursuit of space is the noblest, most worthwhile endeavor the human race can take. I know many will agree with Mr. Menkes and state that we should be spending our time and money on fighting diseases, feeding the poor and such. I'm not about to say those opinions are wrong but don't dismiss space exploration as anything less, a priority.

The paradox of human beings is we focus so much on improving the quality and length of our own lives and our children. Yet, as we do this, we have overpopulated our planet to the point where it gets so crowded and polluted that we jeopardize the quality and lengths of our lives that we think we are improving on. We may have already reached that point. It has been speculated that the next generation will have a lower life-span expectancy than the current one.

If you truly think ahead, think beyond your children or even your grandchildren. Instead, think about your children's children's children and where they will be. On a planet ravaged by war and environmental disasters, are they going to find it any easier to take the human race beyond our planet? Space is a tremendously long term investment. We won't really reap the rewards in our lifetimes. That doesn't mean we should make the investment, though.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

NFL Power Rankings

It sure can be messy ranking these teams. One must look at their season as a whole and not just pay attention to who recently beat whom. After 13 weeks, here's how I see it.

1. Chargers (Only Shottenheimer can stop them)
2. Patriots (Not winning pretty, but winning)
3. Bears (Ditto)
4. Colts (Flaws are appearing in their armor)
5. Cowboys (Where did these guys come from?)
6. Seahawks (Starting to look like last year's team)
7. Ravens (I hope we don't see the Bears and Ravens in the Superbowl)
8. Bengals
(They need to be more consistent)
9. Saints (They are still surprising everyone)
10. Broncos (Bad decision to put Cutler in now)
11. Jaguars (They need to stop losing to lower teams)
12. Falcons
(Great one week, lousy the next)
13. Eagles (Don't quite have it together)
14. Chiefs (Ditto)
15. Steelers (Late run is probably too little, too late)
16. Jets (The AFC's surprise team)
17. Panthers (Good defense, bad offense)
18. Giants (Need to play better and stop blaming coach)
19. 49ers (Playing better, found defense and running game)
20. Bills
(A tough team at home this time of year)
21. Vikings (Typical mediocre NFC team)
22. Titans (Vince Young is starting to find his place)
23. Rams (Another mediocre NFC team)
24. Packers (Favre can't save this team)
25. Dolphins (Harrington finally shows some talent)
26. Browns (Another typical Brown season)
27. Redskins (Remember when the NFC east was supposed to be all good?)
28. Texans (Beating the Raiders isn't a big deal)
29. Buccaneers (They need a passing game)
30. Cardinals (They have a passing game, now they need everything else)
31. Lions (This has become such an inept franchise)
32. Raiders (Not as bad as earlier in the season, but still bad)

Friday, December 01, 2006

Bond Films Part 5

This will be the last installment of the James Bond series (you can stop applauding now). The top five Bond films are:

5. You Only Live Twice: This will always be known as the Bond film where you finally get to see Bond's (Connery's anyway) arch enemy - Ernst Stavro Blofeld. Coldly played by Donald Pleasence, he is the model for Dr. Evil in the Austin Powers movies. In this one, Bond travels to Japan where S.P.E.C.T.R.E. (SPecial Executive for Counter-Intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion) is stealing American and Soviet rockets. The story moves along very well until the end where there is an overly long battle sequence that just gets tiring.

4. From Russia with Love: Where Dr. No introduced us to James Bond, From Russia with Love has all the features that make a great Bond film. Connery is excellent and has really become his character. This film features some great action sequences including the big boat chase at the end and the fight on the train. There are two good henchpeople in this film Lotte Lenya as Rosa Klebb and Robert Shaw as Donovan Grant. Rosa Klebb served as the model for Frau Farbissina in the Austin Powers movies.

3. Diamonds are Forever: This flick is often disregarded by Connery fans as being too glib. While it did work as a prelude to the less serious Bond films of Roger Moore, it is a great film, nonetheless. Charles Gray re-interprets the personality of Blofeld. He is charming and witty as opposed to the deadly serious type. Even better, though, are Bruce Glover and Putter Smith as the gay assassins Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd. I love every scene these guys are in. Jill St. John is funny as the somewhat ditsy Tiffany Case. This film is unique in that Bond actually loses his temper and calls Tiffany a "stupid twit".

2. Goldfinger: This is a good cerebral Bond film. Bond is tracking Goldfinger and his assistant Oddjob (Gert Fröbe and Harold Sakata respectively) only to get too close. Who can forget the laser beam scenario, it's almost right out of Batman. What make it great though is Bond didn't have a "toolbelt" with a nifty ant-laser device. Bond didn't work the straps loose. Bond didn't fight his way out of it. Instead, he saves his manhood and himself (in that order) by subtle suggestion. Then the added challenge of dealing with the man-hating Pussy Galore (Honor Blackman) makes this a true classic.

1. The Living Daylights: This one contains great villains, a great story, and several of the best action sequences of all the Bond films. The opening scene on the Rock of Gibraltar is great. The car chase is superb. The fight on the cargo plane is spectacular. I really like the plot twist in the middle of the film when we find out who the bad guy really is. During all this, Timothy Dalton is the definitive Bond. He is suave and charming one minute, edgy and a lethal weapon the next. The chemistry between he and Maryam d'Abo as Kara Milovy is unique in a Bond film. This one has it all. It is the perfect Bond film.

While I'm at it, here is my list of favorite Bond theme songs:

1. Goldfinger - Shirley Bassey
2. Thunderball - Tom Jones
3. You Only Live Twice - Nancy Sinatra
4. Live and Let Die - Paul McCartney & Wings
5. For Your Eyes Only - Sheena Easton
6. All Time High (Octopussy) - Rita Coolidge
7. The World is not Enough - Garbage
8. The Man with the Golden Gun - Lulu
9. A View to a Kill - Duran Duran
10. Nobody Does it Better (The Spy Who Loved Me) - Carly Simon

Worst theme songs

1. We have All the Time in the World (On Her Majesty's Secret Service) - Louis Armstrong
2. Moonraker - Shirley Bassey
3. Goldeneye - Tina Turner
4. Tomorrow Never Dies - Sheryl Crow

Best "Bond Women"

1. Pam Bouvier - Carey Lowell in License to Kill
2. Tiffany Case - Jill St. John in Diamonds are Forever
3. Pussy Galore - Honor Blackman in Goldfinger
4. Melina Havelock - Carole Bouquet in For Your Eyes Only
5. Kara Milovy - Maryam d'Abo in The Living Daylights
Honorable mention - Octopussy - Maud Adams in Octopussy

Worst "Bond Women"

1. Mary Goodnight - Britt Ekland in Man with the Golden Gun
2. Anya Anasova - Barbara Bach in The Spy Who Loved Me
3. Holly Goodhead - Lois Chiles in Moonraker
4. Stacey Sutton - Tanya Roberts in A View to a Kill
5. Solitaire - Jane Seymour in Live and Let Die
Dishonorable mention - Jinx - Halle Berry in Die Another Day

Best Villains

1. Auric Goldfinger - Gert Fröbe in Goldfinger
2. Francisco Scaramanga - Christopher Lee in The Man with the Golden Gun
3. Ernst Stavro Blofeld - Charles Gray in Diamonds are Forever
4. Georgi Koskov - Jeroen Krabbé in The Living Daylights
5. Franz Sanchez - Robert Davi in License to Kill

Worst Villains

1. Hugo Drax - Michael Lonsdale in Moonraker
2. Karl Stromberg - Curd Jürgens in The Spy Who Loved Me
3. Elliot Carver - Jonathan Pryce in Tomorrow Never Dies
4. General Ourumov - Gottfried John in GoldenEye
5. Ernst Stavro Blofeld - Telly Savalas in On Her Majesty's Secret Service

Best Henchman/woman

1. Mr Wint and Mr. Kidd - Bruce Glover and Putter Smith in Diamonds are Forever
2. Oddjob - Harold Sakata in Goldfinger
3. Donovan Grant - Robert Shaw in From Russia with Love
4. Fatima Blush - Barbara Carrera in Never Say Never Again
5. Mayday - Grace Jones in A View to a Kill
6. Fiona Volpe - Luciana Paluzzi in Thunderball

Worst Henchman/woman

1. Jaws - Richard Kiel in Moonraker
2. Jaws - Richard Kiel in The Spy Who Loved Me
3. Xenia Onatopp - Famke Janssen in Goldeneye